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Individual Contractor – Developing regional business engagement for childhood overweight prevention during and after Covid-19
United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF)
Grade: Individual Contractor, Unspecified
Closing soon: 21 Jun 2021
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Added 1 week ago
Job Description

Background

The prevalence of overweight, including obesity among children and adolescents, is increasing almost everywhere; and now afflicts both urban and rural poor children and is increasing most rapidly in low-and-middle income countries (LMICs).

Latin America and Caribbean (LAC) faces some of the highest rates of childhood overweight in the world and is one of the regions where UNICEF and partners are working most actively on the prevention agenda. Compared to the world average of 5.6 per cent, 7.5 per cent of children under five in the region have overweight; this represents 4 million children of preschool age. The situation is worse among older children. Around 30 per cent of 5-19-year-olds living in the LAC region are now estimated to be affected by overweight and obesity, far higher than the world average of 18 per cent.

The drivers of the overweight epidemic are multiple and complex. However, a large body of evidence suggests that changes to food environments are the major drivers of the rise of overweight during the past forty years. People’s food environments can be very different depending on the availability, affordability, marketing promotion and product properties of different foods. Moreover, the COVID-19 pandemic has further undermined access to healthy diets, physical activity and has deepened the inequality gap.

In many LMIC, obesity coexists with undernutrition (including energy, and macro and micronutrient deficiencies) leading to a “double burden of malnutrition” occurring across the life-course of individuals and coexisting in the same households and districts. There is a complex interplay between early undernutrition (in mothers before and during pregnancy, and suboptimal infant feeding practices in early childhood) and later over nutrition that exacerbates the risk of NCDs. Therefore, focus should be given to the so-called “double duty action” for the prevention of both undernutrition and overweight and improving the healthiness of day-to-day food environments. In this sense, UNICEF’s response follows a fully multidimensional approach that addresses all forms of malnutrition, including both undernutrition and overweight and obesity. With the launch of the UNICEF Programming Guidance on the Prevention of Overweight and Obesity in Children and Adolescents, UNICEF regional offices and country offices are scaling up their programming work on overweight and obesity, combining double duty interventions that address all forms of malnutrition with overweight specific actions and regulations.

In a changing world, where food systems and environments have changed, consumers have little influence over their environment, but policy-makers can introduce and/or strengthen policies to overcome aspects that promote unhealthy dietary patterns and contribute to a more enabling environment where children can thrive and reach their full potential.

Overweight affects children’s health with physical, mental and social effects. Childhood overweight increases the risk of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as diabetes type 2 at early stages of life and in adulthood. At the societal level, overweight and obesity result in major financial and social burdens for LMICs.

UNICEF Regional office of Latin America and The Caribbean (LACRO) has been developing a new research and advocacy agenda on the role of business, and the marketing of food and beverage, in the growth of overweight and obesity rates across the region. It’s is now clear that the role of the environment is key in nutrition habits and lifestyles of children and adolescents, and the role of business in this environment is salient.

In order to halt the rise of childhood overweight in the region, UNICEF LACRO has been working on generating evidence and advocating on the negative impacts of the environment including the role of the private sector. In this sense, 2 key work streams are undergoing:

• Generate and disseminate evidence on the drivers, consequences and promising solution to child overweight in low and middle-income countries.

• Design and implementation of advocacy effort to change the narrative on child overweight and obesity and secure political, legal, financial and public support for effective prevention measures and supportive environments.

Purpose of the Assignment

Under the supervision of the Corporate Alliances Specialist, and with guidance from the Survive & Thrive team and the Nutrition Specialist, the indovidual contractor will be asked to supervise and coordinate key initiatives:

1. The finalization of the 2 pilots of the childhood overweight landscape analysis in Costa Rica and Peru; promote its use in other countries in LAC; and contribute to the dissemination and advocacy work in the region.

2. A regional digital marketing study of food and beverages directed to children; review studies on the role of digital marketing on overweight of children conducted in Argentina and Mexico; elaborate a regional policy brief with the findings of all the studies; contribute to the dissemination and advocacy work in the region and globally

3. An investigation on one retail company using the Retail Assessment Toolkit and pilot the recommendations of the regional study on childhood overweight and retail environments; contribute to the dissemination and advocacy work in the region and globally.

4. Guidance development to engage with 2 cities committed to improve urban food environments and prevent childhood overweight in LAC; monitor the engagement process with the two cities; disseminate results and main findings with other cities in the region to advocate and promote nutritious diets and healthy environments for all children in urban settings in LAC.

5. Contribute to a common effort of UNICEF nutrition and communication colleagues to studying social norms, knowledge, attitudes and behaviors around diet and body weight, with a particular focus on the role of the private sector in promoting or changing these norms, attitudes and behaviors.

6. Co-coordinate with Nutrition and Communication’s colleagues to the advocacy and communication activities related to change the narrative on child overweight and obesity to secure political, legal, financial and public support for effective prevention measures and supportive environments.

Specific Tasks

1. Finalization of the childhood overweight landscape analysis tool in 2 countries and promote the use of the tool in other countries in LAC

Using the methodology developed by UNICEF and WHO, the consultant will collaborate with the regional office (Nutrition, Communication and Partnership colleagues) and with the colleagues in country offices (also Nutrition, Communication and Partnerships) to finish the pilots of the landscape analysis tool. The landscape analysis tool is an aid to understanding whether overweight and obesity is an issue in a given country context, understand the trajectory of change and underlying factors driving these changes, such as maternal nutrition, infant and young child feeding practices, dietary and physical activity shifts among children, and obesogenic food and built environments. In addition, the landscape analysis reviews the current policy and programme context against existing recommendations and guidance to identify any possible gaps. Based on this assessment, UNICEF and WHO, together with government counterparts, can support in the definition of country-level strategies and actions to halt the rise. The methodology used and the current status of the pilots will be shared at the beginning of the consultancy. After the pilots have been finished, the consultant will be requested to analyze the positive and negative role of the private sector in childhood overweight and obesity; to gather all the information from country and regional office on how the tool can be improved and what are their recommendations; and provide feedback to Nutrition HQ; and explore spaces where to disseminate the toolkit and foster its use in other countries in LAC.

2. Digital marketing studies of food and beverages directed to children

UNICEF in Latin America has been pioneering research to better understand the role of the environment in children and families’ nutrition. This research agenda led to the development of clear and impactful public policy recommendations and guidance for businesses to improve their impacts on children nutrition and eating habits.

Will be requested to support the regional and country offices to disseminate the results of the two studies conducted in the region; coordinate and supervise a regional marketing study following a brief CLICK methodology including three to four countries in the region; elaborate a regional policy brief with main findings and recommendations; and contribute in the dissemination plan with relevant partners towards key regulators and stakeholders. The CLICK methodology and the results of the studies conducted in Argentina and Mexico will be shared at the beginning of the consultancy.

3. Coordinate and supervise an investigation in at least one food retail outlet using the Retail Assessment Toolkit and piloting the recommendations of the regional study on childhood overweight and retail environments.

UNICEF is also working on studying the role of retail in children nutrition. The retail food environment has a major role on the availability and affordability of healthy and unhealthy food and beverage for the population. This sector could play a major role in limiting the promotion and consumption of unhealthy foods and beverages, and promote better habits towards the population. UNICEF will coordinate the following in this regard: will be requested to coordinate and supervise an evaluation of at least one food retail outlet using the Retail Assessment toolkit and pilot the recommendations of the regional study “Childhood Overweight and the Retail Environment in Latin America and the Caribbean” (the study will be developed by a third party, under the supervision of the consultant).

4. Coordinate and supervise a guidance development to engage with 2 cities committed to improve urban food environments and prevent childhood overweight in LAC

Within the global context of increasing overweight and obesity, concern has been growing over children’s nutrition, particularly in urban environments. The consumption of unhealthy foods is widespread in urban contexts, where foods that are high in fats, salt and sugars are cheap and readily accessible – and healthy options such as fresh fruits and vegetables are often expensive or unavailable. Urban advertisements for junk foods are largely targeted to appeal children, and most schools provide meals with low nutritional value. The increasingly sedentary lifestyle of children due to a lack of playgrounds and recreational green spaces in cities further encourages the prevalence of overweight and obesity. City populations are expected to swell in the coming decades, with the United Nations projecting that 70 per cent of all people will live in urban areas by 2030.

In this context of growing cities and unhealthy urban food environments, the health concerns of childhood obesity in the urban context are increasingly relevant. In this regard, UNICEF LACRO seek to engage with at least two cities committed to improve urban food environments and prevent childhood overweight. Leveraging existing platforms and guidance – including the Children Eating well in cities: A roadmap for action to support nutritious diets and healthy environments for all children in urban settings (https://www.unicef.org/media/89396/file/Children-eating-well-in-cities.pdf), Child Friendly Cities Initiative (https://childfriendlycities.org)  and Shaping Urbanization for Children: A handbook on child-responsive urban planning (www.unicef.org/reports/shaping-urbanization-children) the individual contractor will be requested to supervise and coordinate a guidance development on how to engage strategically engage with cities and improve urban food environments including a child rights perspective and interventions that seek to prevent childhood overweight.

5. Contribute to a common effort of UNICEF nutrition and communication colleagues to studying social norms, knowledge, attitudes and behaviors around diet and body weight, with a particular focus on the role of the private sector in promoting or changing these norms, attitudes and behaviors.

Studying knowledge, attitudes and behaviours around diet and body weight will allow UNICEF and key stakeholders to understand how families interact with food systems; and to create solutions that reflect the realities of the urban context and that benefit children and families. This study will ensure that all stakeholders are properly represented including policymakers and the private sector. The outputs of this study will help UNICEF colleagues (PD Nutrition, Regional Advisor of Nutrition, Nutrition specialists, PFP/CRB focal point in LACRO) and expert colleagues to articulate a strategy to engage with different stakeholders including the private sector.

The role will be to promote business engagement in the design of the strategy, map and engage potential partners to scale up this business engagement in the region and support the replication of these engagements in the countries.

6. Co-coordinate with Nutrition and Communication’s colleagues to the advocacy and communication activities related to change the narrative on child overweight and obesity to secure political, legal, financial and public support for effective prevention measures and supportive environments

Misperception about the causes of overweight continue to dominate media and policy conversations. Overweight is complex, and is triggered and sustained by many factors beyond the individual´s control. The individual contractor will be requested to contribute and support the advocacy and communication activities of the retail, digital marketing and social norm studies, and a tool that help to assess where childhood overweight is a serious problem in a specific country. All this will highlight how social and environmental factors driving overweight undermine children´s rights and threaten their health.

Other tasks: will be requested to co-design the advocacy strategy on improving food environment; contribute to the dissemination plan of activities related to prevent childhood overweight.

Expected Results

• Promote the use and implementation of childhood overweight landscape analysis tool in other countries in LAC and inspire the development of a strategy to prevent childhood overweight and eventually impact positively the environment and nutrition habits of millions of children and adolescents in the region.

• Through the development of local and regional studies, generate policy recommendations with the potential to impact millions of children and adolescents with overweight and obesity.

• Through promoting effective advocacy, empower CO colleagues and hopefully achieve some progress on changing business practices and improving the regulatory framework in Latin America.

Deliverables

Description

Duration

[in days]

Expected deadlines and deliverables

Workplan for the duration of the

consultancy

14 days

Sept 22, 2021 -

Detailed workplan document covering the entire consultancy

Supervise and support the finalization

of the pilots of the childhood

overweight landscape analysis tool;

collect information from country offices

and share recommendations with UNICEF

colleagues on how the tool can be

improved based on pilot´s experience

90 days

Dec 31, 2021- 

Report on pilots to share recommendations with UNICEF colleagues

Promote the use and implementation

of the childhood landscape analysis

tool in other countries in the region

This activity

will be along all

the consultancy

August 2022

Report on numbers of COs that implemented the landscape analysis

(DEFINITION OF TARGET IN THE CONSULTANCY WORKPLAN)

Supervise and coordinate the regional

digital marketing study

180 days

March 31, 2022

Final version of the regional digital marketing study

Infographic with findings and recommendations

Digital marketing studies in LAC:

regional policy brief including main

results and recommendations

45 days

April 30, 2022

Final version of the regional policy brief with results and recommendations

Supervise and coordinate an

investigation in a retail food outlet

180-240

days

August, 2022

Final version of the retail food outlet investigation

Infographic with findings and recommendations

Supervise and coordinate a guidance

development to engage with 2 cities

committed to improve urban food

environmentsand prevent childhood

overweight in LAC

180 days

March 31, 2022

Regional guidance to engage with cities committed to improve urban food environments and prevent childhood overweight in LAC + 2 case studies 

Study on knowledge, attitudes and social 

norms around diet and body weight

180 days

March 31, 2022

Final version of the study on knowledge, attitudes and social norms around diet and body weight with a particular focus on the role of the private sector

Infographic with findings and recommendations

Dashboard of progress achieved through

advocacy on food systems.

This activity

will be along all

the consultancy

August, 2022

Dashboard to monitor progress (internal presentation every 3 months)

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Minimum Requirements

Education: Advanced University degree in Nutrition, Nutrition policy and/or public health or marketing/advertising of food and beverages, or similar.

Work Experience: A minimum of 5 years of relevant work experience in nutrition programming/research and or country support at mid/senior level. Demonstrated experience in developing landscape analysis and overview complex studies is strongly desired. Demonstrated research skills and familiarity with capturing key themes from key informant interviews.

Languages: Fluency in Spanish and English is required.

Technical knowledge (if applicable): Professional technical knowledge and expertise in the field of nutrition, public health, prevention of overweight and obesity, marketing & advertising of food and beverages or similar.

Other skills and attributes (optional): Ability to work under pressure and efficiently under tight deadlines. Able to work effectively in a multicultural environment. Demonstrated experience on UNICEF will be an asset. 

For every Child, you demonstrate… Core values of care, respect, integrity, trust, and accountability. UNICEF competencies: building and maintains partnerships, demonstrates self-awareness and ethical awareness, drive to achieve results for impact, innovates and embraces change, manages ambiguity and complexity, thinks and acts strategically, works collaboratively with others and nurtures, and, leads and manages people.

Supervision: Under the direct supervision of the Corporate Alliance Specialist and in close collaboration with Nutrition and Communication colleagues. 

Workplace: Work-from-home mode. 

How to apply? Application should be submitted online and should include: CV, Cover letter, University Diplomas and Financial proposal

Qualified candidates are requested to submit daily and monthly fees in their financial proposal. In case travel will be covered by UNICEF and calculated per the United Nations standards.

UNICEF is committed to diversity and inclusion within its workforce, and encourages all candidates, irrespective of gender, nationality, religious and ethnic backgrounds, including persons living with disabilities, to apply to become a part of the organization. UNICEF has a zero-tolerance policy on conduct that is incompatible with the aims and objectives of the United Nations and UNICEF, including sexual exploitation and abuse, sexual harassment, abuse of authority and discrimination. UNICEF also adheres to strict child safeguarding principles. All selected candidates will be expected to adhere to these standards and principles and will therefore undergo rigorous reference and background checks. Background checks will include the verification of academic credential(s) and employment history. Selected candidates may be required to provide additional information to conduct a background check.

Remarks

Only shortlisted candidates will be contacted and advance to the next stage of the selection process.

Individuals engaged under a consultancy or individual contract will not be considered “staff members” under the Staff Regulations and Rules of the United Nations and UNICEF’s policies and procedures, and will not be entitled to benefits provided therein (such as leave entitlements and medical insurance coverage). Their conditions of service will be governed by their contract and the General Conditions of Contracts for the Services of Consultants and Individual Contractors. Consultants and individual contractors are responsible for determining their tax liabilities and for the payment of any taxes and/or duties, in accordance with local or other applicable laws.

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